Five new rule changes that affect UAE travellers: from Saudi Arabia to India

Emirates has also stopped flights to South Africa and Nigeria until July 15

Social distancing measures in place at Terminal 3, Dubai International Airport. Courtesy Emirates
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There have been a number of developments in recent days that will affect the travel plans of UAE residents and citizens. Saudi Arabia is suspending passenger flights to and from the UAE at 11pm on Sunday, meaning that airlines in the Emirates will no longer be able to fly to any destinations in the kingdom, for an unspecified period of time.

UAE authorities have also compiled a list of countries that Emiratis are prohibited from visiting, and Emirates has responded by extending its suspension of flights to India, South Africa and Nigeria.

Here are some of the latest updates.

Saudi Arabia suspends travel from the UAE

Saudi Arabia is closing its borders to travellers from the UAE, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Afghanistan, in an attempt to curb the spread of new, highly transmissible Covid-19 variants. The ban is due to go into effect at 11pm on Sunday.

The kingdom is suspending passenger flights to and from all four countries. Saudi citizens are banned from travelling to these destinations, unless they receive special permission from authorities.

The country's citizens are currently also banned from travelling to Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Belarus and India.

Saudi Arabia lifted travel restrictions on 11 countries, including the UAE, in May, after a 14-month lockdown. The country is still welcoming travellers from the US, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan.

Vaccinated Saudi citizens, or those who have recovered from Covid-19, have also been allowed to travel outside the kingdom since May, but the Ministry of Interior is calling for caution and advising people to “stay away from areas where the virus is spreading, and follow all precautionary measures, regardless of their destination”, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Emirates is operating extra flights to and from Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam on Sunday to help Saudi nationals and residents return to the country as soon as possible.

Emirates' final flights to and from Saudi Arabia on Sunday are: Dubai‑Jeddah‑Dubai – EK2805 / EK2806; Dubai‑Riyadh‑Dubai – EK2817/ EK 2818; and Dubai‑Dammam‑Dubai – EK2821/ EK2822.

According to a statement from the airline: “Customers with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as their final destination, arriving on/after July 5, 2021, will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin.”

Emiratis banned from travel to India, Pakistan and South Africa

UAE authorities have announced that Emiratis are prohibited from travelling to a number of countries, including India, Pakistan and South Africa. Also on the list are Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Namibia, Zambia, Congo, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

The announcement came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority on Thursday.

Both entities said UAE diplomatic missions in the countries, emergency treatment cases, official delegations and previously authorised business and technical delegates were exempt from the decision.

Emirates and Etihad extend suspension of India flights

Emirates is extending its ban on passenger flights from India until Thursday, July 15. During this period, passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other points to the UAE, the Dubai airline said.

Passengers who have already booked tickets for travel before this date can keep those open for a future flight on an unspecified date, or rebook for a future date.

UAE nationals, holders of the country's golden visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with the revised published Covid‑19 protocols are exempt and may be accepted to travel.

The airline has also extended its ban on arrivals from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka until July 15.

Etihad has also extended its suspension of flights to all destinations in India. In an official statement, the airline said: "Following the latest UAE government directives, passenger travel from India to the UAE and Etihad's network has been suspended effective until [Wednesday] July 21."

Emirates suspends flights to Nigeria and South Africa

Dubai's airline has also announced that passenger flights to and from Nigeria are suspended until Thursday, July 15. It had been operating services to Lagos and Abuja.

Customers travelling to these two destinations will no longer be accepted for travel, and customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the past 14 days are not permitted to board from any other point to the UAE.

Emirates’ flights from South Africa to Dubai will also remain suspended until Thursday, July 15, in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa into the UAE.

The airline will continue to operate a daily outbound flight to Johannesburg, EK763, but its EK764 service has been cancelled. Customers who have been to or connected through South Africa in the past 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai.

Supreme Committee urges caution when travelling overseas

Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management is encouraging citizens and residents to only travel this summer if they are fully vaccinated. With the peak summer travel season about to begin, the committee urged citizens and residents planning to only embark on overseas journeys at least 14 days after receiving the second dose of their vaccine.

Travellers are also being urged to exercise extreme caution when travelling overseas and to avoid visiting destinations experiencing serious outbreaks of Covid-19.

Updated: July 06, 2021, 11:56 AM